This week, Toronto-based illustrator Kendra Yee outlines how she juggles a busy schedule of commissioned illustration jobs, gallery shows, zine fairs, and personal projects, all while completing her art degree at OCAD University. The Rookie magazine and Forge Art Mag featured artist is also expanding her practice to include sculptural work, creating playful, weird ceramic and even bronze pieces that take her illustrated characters into three dimensions.
Yee tracked her schedule for a week to share how she manages her time without making a plan: by getting up early, and taking time off when she needs it to listen to podcasts or groove out to Al Green.
Name: Kendra Yee
Online Portfolio: kendrayee.com
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Cups of coffee: You really don’t want to know (I think around 8).
Sketchbook pages filled up: 7
Hours spent in the studio: Too many!
How long have you been working in a creative field: Since a wee bab (5 years).
Day 1: Monday
8:30 a.m. The week starts off bright, early and with heavy machinery for a bronze casting course that I’m taking during the fall semester. Hopefully, my mold will be poured out on Wednesday so I can see if my sculptures worked out.
11:30 a.m. Class is over, and I head to the studios at 115 McCaul to finish up an oil painting for an upcoming show at Xpace Cultural Centre in February. The thesis students at OCAD U have private desks to work on their final projects. It’s sufficient to say, I’ve given up wearing nice clothes because I will get paint everywhere.
6:00 p.m. Time for life painting (and more oil paint). It was an unusual set-up for class, involving a cityscape projection and a stuffed hawk.
1:00 a.m. It’s really cold in the house, so I wrap up in my blankets and work on my laptop in bed to finish a graphic design commission.
Works in progress.
Day 2: Tuesday
8:30 a.m. Yawn! Sleepy from last night but, manage to get my butt out of bed for a nice coffee at the local cafe. Going to the studios early to finish up some school work.
11:50 a.m. Progress check in for thesis. Over the course of the year, we work with an illustration professor to develop a series of 10 illustrations.
4:00 p.m. Heading over to discount store Honest Ed’s in search of miscellaneous material. Pretty sad to see such a landmark closing down in the city. I use to buy plain t-shirts from there for screen printing.
11:30 p.m. Club went up on a toosday! Actually no, I went to bed.
Day 3: Wednesday
8:30 a.m. Lecture in the morning on the history of aesthetic. To see or not to see or what do you see? That is the question (and it makes me go cross-eyed).
12:00 p.m. My sculptures have been poured out and are ready to be released from the ceramic shell. Time to get the grinders going and start refining. My favourite piece is this ugly, wonky spider that doesn’t really stand up straight.
3:00 p.m. Glaze some ceramics for a zine fair. Making lots of little bowls and small felon characters.
9:00 p.m. Hands are tired for glazing all day long, I sit down and watch Alien while drawing up some concepts for thesis (working on a dark matter world).
Day 4: Thursday
9:00 a.m. Chill out in the house for a bit and blast music a little too loud. Listening to Al Green and Kaytranada.
11:00 a.m. More and more ceramics! It never stops!
2:00 p.m. Rush to pick up some framed prints that were hanging in a show for a couple of months. Precariously carry them back to the studio on my bikes handlebars (super scary going down busy Dundas Street).
6:00 p.m. Drop of some other framed prints and ceramics for another show happening later on in the week. If all else fails, at least I can become a bike courier.
8:30 p.m. Check out some openings that are happening this week. Toronto is a great place for emerging artists. It’s so exciting to see what different collectives are working on!
Day 5: Friday
Full day I was sick. Took this as a sign to watch the whole new season of Gilmore Girls on Netflix. MIXED FEELINGS OVERALL (but, forever team Jess and Rory). At some point, I drew in my sketchbook. Gotta have a place to release all the ~*emotions.
Day 6: Saturday
9:00 a.m. Emails, emails, emails.
12:00 p.m. Work on silkscreening some t-shirts and bags for my friend’s band. Only one-layered prints, so an easy pull.
3:00 p.m. Clay babies came out of the kiln! It’s always such an unpredictable process, but luckily this time around there were no casualties.
6:00 p.m. Grab dinner with some friends and catch up with everyone. It’s that time of the year where everyone has a billion projects on the go.
Day 7: Sunday
9 a.m. Cleaned up my home studio space. Found: three metal chains, my grandpa’s Swiss Army knife, and my left Adidas slider. It was a productive morning.
1:30 p.m. Headed to the school’s studios and played older Radiolab podcasts. I find it really hard to watch television when working, so podcasts are the perfect way to tune out and still draw.
6:00 p.m. Packed up a mountain of tracing paper into my bag and headed home for dinner. Ate lots of roasted veggies!
10:30 p.m. Spent some time drawing some comics and chilling around the house after a busy week. Then caught some much-needed rest.
All images by Kendra Yee
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